Let’s break up with too many adverbs

Do you still remember your adverbs?

One of the eight (8) parts of speech, adverbs are words that modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. The use of adverbs aims to express the manner, location, time, frequency, and degree that answers essential questions

Manner

She carefully placed back the globe on the cabinet

He read the book fast.

Location

She saw an old friend nearby.

He fell down the tree.

Time

She went to the beach yesterday.

He will climb the mountain tomorrow.

Frequency

She never forgets the good things you do for her.

He always studies before sleeping.

Degree

She is so talented.

He is completely fallen for his best friend.

Adverbs are best used to emphasize a point or an idea, but using it all the time destroys the flow of thought of a sentence. According to Stephen King, a best-selling author who wrote the famous suspense movie, It, adverbs are your enemies. He pressed on though that these only refer to those adverbs ending with ‘-ly’.

Like these:

happily
gladly
sadly
happily
thankfully
perfectly
highly
lowly
quickly
slowly
suddenly
promptly
angrily
quietly
loudly
softly
beautifully
motionlessly
gracefully
generously
generally
adamantly
certainly
hungrily

These adverbs are just decorations that are not really needed. When you are writing, too many adverbs just make your sentences longer than necessary. The longer your sentences are, the more your audience gets confused.

They are distractions.

Try to observe this paragraph.

Hi, My name is Celestyna and I am going to tell you four little things about me. Initially, I am Polish but honestly, I grew up in the very beautiful country of Japan. Next, I want to tell you that I totally love the cherry blossoms. Then, I also want to tell you that I am so terribly afraid of spiders. Moreover, I cannot last a second looking at this awfully ugly creature because their eight legs make the hair on my skin stand. Finally, I am eagerly excited to make friends with you all!

It was a brief and nice self-introduction but it was full of adverbs that are not really important. Let us take a look if we remove these words.

Hi, My name is Celestyna and I am going to tell you four little things about me. Initially, I am Polish but I grew up in the very beautiful country of Japan. Next, I want to tell you that I love the cherry blossoms. Then, I also want to tell you that I am so afraid of spiders. Moreover, I cannot last a second looking at this ugly creature because their eight legs make the hair on my skin stand. Finally, I am excited to make friends with you all!

See, the meaning didn’t change, right?

But wait. The adverbs ending with ‘-ly’ are not the only one that breaks the flow of your sentences. Excessive use of conjunctive adverbs makes your sentences sound awkward.

Conjunctive adverbs

accordingly
also
besides
consequently
conversely
finally
furthermore
hence
however
indeed
instead
likewise
meanwhile
moreover
nevertheless
next
nonetheless
otherwise
similarly
still
subsequently
then
therefore
thus

With the example of Celestyna, let’s see what happened if we remove the conjunctive adverbs.

Hi, My name is Celestyna and I am going to tell you four little things about me. I am Polish but I grew up in the very beautiful country of Japan. I want to tell you that I love the cherry blossoms. I also want to tell you that I am so afraid of spiders. I cannot last a second looking at this ugly creature because their eight legs make the hair on my skin stand. I am excited to make friends with you all!

Okay. The paragraph now is clearer this time because it is straight to the point.

Now, we don’t mean that you have to forget all the adverbs to make your sentences easier to understand. We suggest that you use them on special times like you want to emphasize something as what we’ve mentioned earlier. The technique is to learn more words. Expand your vocabulary to replace those overused adverbs.

Instead of saying, “The snowman is very big,”
Say, “The snowman is enormous“.

Instead of saying, “The art project is beautifully done,”
Say, “The art project is a masterpiece.”

Instead of saying, “He is truly a smart person,”
Say, “He is a real genius!”

If you want to be understood, remember KISS:

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Photo by Francesca Gioffrè

 

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